Blame Barbie

Hooves pound the earth. A determined prince rides into view atop an elegant snowy horse. Galloping towards the stone turret that imprisons his beloved, he calls out that he will save her. Her face lights up when she realizes he does love her. He grabs hold of the nearest ivy and deftly hoists himself up the cobbled wall all the while bestowing upon her adulations. Wait a minute, wrong time period!

Romance, according to Ray Bradbury, is the notion that anything is possible. Why do we, as women, still maintain romantic ideologies that are as old as medieval times? Could it be that our childhoods saturated with Disney in the beguiling forms of Cinderella, Snow White, and Bell are to blame? Maybe it’s Ken, who swept our Barbies off their feet and drove them away in sports cars, who we should point our fingers at. Whoever, or whatever the main culprit is, one thing is certain, women have become disillusioned and disenfranchised.

It’s not like we single women really believe Prince Charming will saddle the horse securely, hoist himself up, put his feet in the stirrups, coax the horse to move, jump over hurdles, arrive on time (with genteel manners), and communicate feelings! Most of us have experienced shock and awe when men have picked up their phones and called instead of texting to ask us out.

This modern experience of defining romance and gender roles has confused and bewildered many of us. So, instead of expending energy searching for the elusive “Mr. Right” (and after living for many years with “Mr. Wrong”), we appreciate our considerate, male friends, step out our lives’ boxes, and try something new.

We apply Bradbury’s definition of romance in a creative manner to our lives, one that doesn’t necessitate a rock on a ring finger or a BF. A definition that doesn’t require us to get up on our horses and multi-task financial concerns with single parenting all while actively pursuing men we find interesting. Instead, some of us define romance like Bradbury does.

We recognize we’re “not looking,” take literature classes, and discover feminine protagonists, such as Lauren Olamina, who kicked butt and took names. And, while deep down inside of us, we might secretly long for princes to sweep us off our feet and make us swoon, we can appreciate our lives for what they are and where they are. That way, when we do meet those men someday and, because we have shaped strong, feminine identities, we’ll see them as men who complement us, not merely as princes who complete us. And maybe we will be able to live happily ever after.

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